Cheesemakers find whey to launch businesses, thanks to OSU

CORVALLIS, Ore. - Kate Humiston and her husband Brian love cheese.

So they decided to start a business.

"About a year ago we decided to just branch out on our own," said Kate. "We wanted to make our own product."

Brian had a degree in food sciences from Oregon State University, but they still needed help.

"I have no idea how we would have done it without this pilot plant," she said.

She and Brian signed up for Oregon State's business incubator program for cheese-makers, to help launch their company, Full Circle Creamery.

"Companies can come in, make cheese for 9 to 12 months and sell it, because it's a licensed dairy facility, and they they will move on to their own facility eventually," said OSU associate professor Lisbeth Goddik. "A number of cheeses that are sold in Oregon right now have been developed here."

Goddik said Oregon State also helps cheese-makers develop a business plan.

"With all the licenses and permits and requirements they have to fulfill, we can give that to the companies and entrepreneurs so they know from day one, what they need to do," she said.

Kate and her husband were able to find out what business loans to go for and how to establish themselves in the market.

"We were able to, at a very low start-up cost, come in and develop our recipes and kinda figure out what we're doing," she said.

Now, Full Circle is a full scale operation, based out of Scio and selling their organic cheeses around the Willamette Valley.

"We developed a recipe and got into a bunch of different markets," said Kate.

And as for starting a company in the recession, she thinks the risk was worth it.

"It's a little rocky, but we've had a tremendous response from the community."